Namikango Mission

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Can You Come Help Us?

Dec 27, 2018

We felt what Moses must have felt when he crossed the Red Seaon dry land. We drove two trucks on the dry lake bed of Lake Chilwaon our way to the Island of Chisi.

There are two ways to approach the devastating needs in the developing world. We call them relief and development. For centuries, missions have operated under the principle of offering relief . . . food for the hungry. The problem with this is that when the food is gone the problem is still there. However, if we help a community to develop, then the situation can change. While providing food is very beneficial for today, it does not solve the problem for tomorrow. Soon the family will be hungry again.

It is like the parable, "Give a man a fish, and he will have food for a day, teach him to fish, and he will have food for a lifetime."

Development looks for a solution to the problem by asking, “Why does the family not have food? Do they simply lack the money to buy food?” Then the issue is how are they using their funds, budgeting, etc? Is the issue a lack understanding in how to grow food? In this case, development seeks to offer skills to teach the family how to properly grow the food they need. Is the problem a lack of a job to provide an income? Development seeks to offer vocational training so that the family can provide the income needed. Additionally, development seeks to offer the family a way of learning about money and saving it in a way that provides enough cash fortheir daily needs.

Namikango Mission’s philosophy is to develop individuals, families, churches, and communities, empowering them to help themselves and discover their own solutions without dependency on foreign aid and foreign money. This is evident in our Village Savings & Loans (VSL) and Christian Health Evangelism (CHE) programs.The VSL does not offer outside money or even loans, but helps the groups discover the money they need amongst themselves. Andour CHE program helps to develop healthy Christ-centered communities. Results are evident in the farming initiatives we undertake around the country, teaching good agricultural practices that produce healthier harvests.

Good results are also seen in our education initiatives where weseek to strengthen church leaders so they can handle the events and problems that arise in their own congregations. Development works well and in the long run offers communities a new way to become strong enough to solve their own problems without us. The joke among our staff is that we are developing workers and trying to work ourselves out of a job.

After raising the banner of trying to help people become sel fsufficient there inevitably comes an exception, a time when an empty stomach does not want a lesson in fishing, they want food.There are times when relief aid cannot simply be cast aside as an antiquated approach, but is urgently needed in some situations.

For Malawi, a country that is frequently rocked by famine and drought, food can become so scarce that even hard-working communities with good farming practices still suffer. A parasitical worm has invaded parts of the country, decimating healthy fields and leaving large areas of the country exposed to poor harvests.

In these cases, relief must step up. People are starving now and classes on how to protect against the army worm would be pointless. Hungry bellies need food, not a sermon.

We recently received news of a small village on the Island of Chisiin Lake Chilwa, about 20 miles east of Zomba. This village has no food, with no prospects for a harvest in the next few months. Several women and children have already died and the situation is only worsening.

Several churches have helped these congregations, but now they too are entering a period of less food as they wait for the rains to begin another planting season. Namikango was asked if we could help alleviate the hunger on Chisi.

The staff at Namikango immediately went into action, taking up a collection of food and money for the church on Chisi Island. Likewise, the local church, Thondwe Church of Christ, also contributed food to the cause. Finally, the Mission agreed to send two trucks full of maize, nearly 5,180 pounds, for immediate relief.

On 19 November the two truckloads were taken out to the islandand distributed among the villagers there. Each family was given 55 pounds of maize and some salt. The villagers were incredibly grateful, singing songs and shaking our hands as we distributed the food. While happy that we were able to help, we left the island aware that the food will not go far for most families and that the hunger issues will continue for several more months on Chisi Island. We will need to provide more food and help to resolve the blight there in days ahead.

By Eric Gephart